For people with depression, brain activity can predict whether talk therapy or medication will better relieve their symptoms, a new study suggests.
In the study, published today (June 12) in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, people whose brain scans showed an overactive insula, a brain region involved in emotional processing, tended to improve with medication, but not talk therapy, whereas the reverse was true for those with an underactive insula.
The study was small and the findings are preliminary. But if the results are confirmed in a larger trial, the technique could be used to help guide treatment decisions for people with depression, the researchers said.
An evaluation of a depression patient, in a doctor's office, "doesn't really help us to know very well whether they should receive talk therapy or a medication," said study co-author Dr. Boadie Dunlop, a psychiatrist at Emory University in Atlanta. But the new findings, "based on the activity of the brain, that could help us pick the best treatment for an individual," he said.
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